Bringing in the experts.


Kentucky native author Katie McGarry talks to my Teen Writing Group!

Teen Librarians often have to become masters of all trades: reader’s advisory, programming, reference, collection development, circulation services, counseling and therapy, arts and crafts, teaching, mediation, technology and eReaders, video games, and on and on! There are so many reasons why this happens, including budget limitations, a small library staff, a lack of support for Young Adult Services, and the varied interests of teens. I feel that the most important of these is budget restrictions. I am fortunate enough to have a fairly large programming budget for Young Adult Services at my library. I am able to hire experts from outside the library to run or assist with programs. I absolutely love being able to do this.



I paid a small fee to a local artist/crafter who helped me run a Zombie Plushie craft. There were 21 teens at the craft, so having an assistant was awesome!

Bringing in outside presenters requires less preparation time for the Teen Librarian, which includes program planning, supply shopping and supply prep, and it eliminates the time it takes to learn something new well enough that you can teach it to others. By hiring an expert you are able to expose your teens to something completely new, without having to learn it all yourself.

The teens are able to interact with an unfamiliar, yet friendly, welcoming, and interesting adult. They learn something new, and learn that new adults can be fun and approachable. I think it’s a win-win situation for Librarians and their teens.

Even if you have a small budget, trying to bring in local artists, crafters, and technology geeks by offering them a small honorarium, or even as library volunteers, is definitely worthwhile. Something as small as a $50 fee for teaching a one hour class, or the opportunity to promote their own small business, is all you need to offer.

There are so many possibilities for bringing in outside presenters for teen programs! Here are just a few:

  • See if your library’s IT staff want to show your teens how to code or make a website.
  • Call up local photographers to see if they would be able to offer a cheap workshop for teens.
  • ZS-ad-1Find your local chapter of the Zombie Squad to do a free presentation on emergency preparedness.
  • Hire staff from a local salon to teach teens style techniques before prom season.
  • Find local artists on Etsy and see if they have ideas for your next craft program, or ask them to volunteer to help you run a craft.
  • Search online for authors that live in your state or nearby and see if they would be willing to volunteer their time to talk to your teen book club, writing group, or do a presentation and book signing at your library.
  • Have a Reference Librarian or your library’s Reader’s Advisory specialist attend a teen program to offer some RA to attendees. For example, KCPL’s RA Librarian is coming to my monthly book club and my movie night showing of Sherlock Holmes to offer watch-alikes and book suggestions.

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